Our project embraces low-rise, multi-family dwellings and courtyard apartments as one of the varied and necessary solutions for addressing the current housing shortage in Los Angeles. This building type can accommodate more diverse occupancies while maintaining the scale and character of its typical suburban context. By intensifying utility and flexibility, we enabled both environmental and financial sustainability, which can create more opportunity for architecture. Large openings and glass are coveted for natural light, indoor-outdoor living, cross ventilation, etc., but they are expensive and typically out of reach on modest scale projects with limited resources. Strategically, we took what could have been a medium sized single-family dwelling and split it into two units. As such, the building and design would be supported by the income of two households, which then tenably allows for a larger array of architectural features. These features are then organized and distributed equitably across the site and between the units to create private entries from large outdoor spaces and yards connected by the aforementioned generous glazed openings. Our duplex is a stack with unit entries located at the front and back of the building. The lower unit maintains the existing streetscape engagement with a fenced-in front yard, a covered porch and landscaping. The upper unit is organized around a large deck covered by a stretch fabric awning across a steel trellis providing shade that cools a large portion of the building. Finishes were chosen for their off-the-shelf cost effectiveness, ease of installation and resiliency to minimize future maintenance costs. The largest available panel of fiber cement board are laid over a rain screen and oriented (horizontal above and vertical below) and painted to maintain separate identity of the two units. The decking is a wood composite and the metal railings, screens and steel trellis members are hot-dipped galvanized. All interior surfaces are smooth and easily wipeable and cleanable. The blue is a tongue-in-cheek tactic to blend the upper floor into the sky and a cheerful addition to contrast from the typical drab suburban palette. In effect, our project is a direct challenge to the dominant housing type in the region: the detached single family dwelling. It demonstrates that moderately denser housing can both fit in the neighborhood while providing equal if not better residential spaces at a much greater efficiency during a time when it is desperately needed.
American Institute of Architects California
1931 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
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Celebrating over 75 years of service, the AIA California actively promotes the value of design and advocates for the architectural profession. AIA CA is an association of 11,000 dedicated and passionate members who share a commitment to design excellence and livability in California’s natural and built environments.